DON’T PUT ME IN CHARGE! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Ruler

Let me start by saying I do not want to rule the world. I don’t even want to rule this house. Not even a tiny corner of it. I get exhausted trying to manage dogs, convince them to go out to do their business and not steal my socks.

So if you give me a superpower, I might use it to eliminate us. What an annoying bunch we are.

As custodians of the earth, we’ve failed. We have poisoned the water and air, brutalized the earth, slaughtered the wildlife, cut down forests, dammed rivers, and polluted everything with our garbage.

We haven’t been any better to each other than we’ve been to the animals we’ve driven to extinction or near-extinction. We’ve murdered each other and stolen the darkness. We’ve made privacy a joke, eliminated alone time, and somehow, lost respect for each other and life. If we could start over, maybe we’d do a better job, but I don’t see a “redo” in the works.

Autumn at home

If indeed we were chosen to care for this world, we have done a poor job. Personally, I’d make a terrible ruler. Humans cannot be trusted. Even when we try hard, we just don’t seem to get it. I think we weren’t meant to be in charge. We need a better leader, one with the power to make things right and keep them that way.

See? I told you.

Don’t put me in charge. You won’t like it and I know I wouldn’t.

SAFELY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Middle

So. Here we are again. Back in the middle of the middle. Afraid to proffer a candidate who might actually have relevant and new ideas, looking for ways to “make things like they used to be.” Except that no matter who we elect, it isn’t going to be like it used to be. It will never be that way again and no matter how much we try and fix it, it won’t be back to “the old days.”

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

We destroyed the old days and they aren’t coming back. The seniors won’t have to live through the destruction on the horizon, but our children and grand-children will. We won’t even adopt a plan for change that might accomplish something if not everything.

Earth’s day in court

Nice idea to take away guns. 50 years late — assuming we can even do it — but I suppose late is better than never. People still wonder if we can handle a woman at the helm of the nation. How pathetic is that?

The world — the physical earth — has changed and continues to change. Dramatically in some places, slower in others. Ultimately it will encompass the entire planet. Earth — the spinning blue ball — will survive. The question is not whether or not the planet will make it. The question is, will we make it?

Call it my “happy anniversary greetings” from my little damaged house to the rest of the world. I don’t see us doing what needs doing. I don’t see international cooperation. I don’t even see all 50 of our states agreeing to anything together. I don’t see anyone going for a green electric source even though the difference is likely to be less than $10 a month to make the switchover. I think even we can handle that amount — and we are kind of poor.

So on this 29th anniversary of our marriage, I look out into the world and all I can do is hope and wonder that we all understand this isn’t a normal election. It’s not like “Oh well, we’ll get through the four or eight years and then we can get someone we like better.”

We are on the edge of the edge and we put ourselves here, mostly by paying no attention at all to the constant warnings of science what would become of us if we didn’t deal with our world.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

Not only did we ignore it in the U.S. EVERYONE ignored it. Universally. Now, suddenly, there’s a terrifying rush to fix it, but we want to go at it gently. Not upset too many people. Find a nice guy in the middle of the road who will eject the squatter from the White House and that we’ll set up a few more agencies to “investigate” the issue. Not like we already have the answers. We need more of the same answers.

Isn’t it a little late? Where was the urgency in all the years since we “invented” Earth Day? That was more than 40 years ago … and things are not better. Oh, there are cleaner skies over a few big American cities, but we didn’t do anything about carbon emission or CO2. Or drilling. We actually created an even more destructive drilling technique — fracking. What could possibly go wrong with that?

As a matter of fact, what could possibly go wrong at all? We’re all here for the ride. Wheeee!

IT ALL STARTED WITH “FANTASIA” – Marilyn Armstrong

This post began because my husband is not fascinated by dinosaurs. He seemed a bit baffled as to why I’d want to write a story about dinosaurs.

Note: Should a dinosaur wander through my back yard, be assured that I will be out there taking pictures until either the huge reptile ambles away or eats me, whichever comes first.

Unlike many things which have adult origins — technology, philosophy, history — all the “ologies” and “osophies” that attended my education and subsequent research — my passion for dinosaurs goes all the way back, back, back in time to when I was four or five years old and my Aunt Ethel took me to see “Fantasia,” the original, not the later remake.

Who remembers in “Fantasia” the history of the earth, starring the rise and fall of the dinosaurs? It is set to Igor Stravinsky’s brilliant “The Rites of Spring.” The music itself might be enough, but with the Disney artists on their best game, it was something else and embedded itself in my mind for a lifetime.

None of the movie’s graphics were generated by computers. All of them … each frame … was drawn by human artists. The music was played live by an orchestra full of real musicians. Contrary to popular opinion, special effects were not invented by Steven Spielberg.

I was just a little kid and it scared the bejeezus out of me. I had nightmares for years about dinosaurs hiding under the bed, in the hallway, in my closet. I couldn’t sleep without a nightlight because I was sure there was a dinosaur lurking, ready to grab me in giant jaws with teeth 9 feet long. I was a child of great imagination and excessive sensitivity.

As I got older, I began to read books and discovered lots of really cool stuff about dinosaurs, most important (to me) was that North America — what is now the middle of the United States had been giant reptile central, the heartland of the Brontosaurus, Velociraptor and other astonishing creatures. Wyoming was the hot point where Tyrannosaurus Rex ruled. Perhaps their legacy lives on in Washington D.C., but I digress.

When this was made, the whole asteroid thing was yet unknown, so the history of the earth is missing that piece of information, but I’m sure Disney’s artists would have happily included it had they known. Meanwhile, I’m totally whacked at the idea of the earth getting hit by an asteroid. I always have a good laugh when someone in some space lab mentions, casually, that there’s an asteroid headed our way, but not to worry, there’s no better than a 50-50 chance it will really hit us.

That we pathetic creatures, crawling around the surface of the earth, believe we are all-powerful and can control our destiny by technology is funny. Not only has this planet been hit by asteroids — not once but many times — but each time, the event precipitated the extinction of Earth’s dominant species. The dinosaurs lasted a lot longer than we have. Should one of those big hunks of space debris smack into us, I think it unlikely that all the computers, weaponry, technology or prayers we can muster will be of any use at all. Our collective ass will be grass without even the opportunity to text our best buddies about the impending big bang.

We will be gone, quite likely having had even less effect on our planet, in the final analysis, than did the dinosaurs.

Humankind has always suffered above all from the sin of pride. Hubris, as the Greeks called it. We think we are creatures of God and perhaps we are, but who said we are the only creatures of God or that He gave us a permanent free pass from extermination?

map-dinosaurs-1993

And this is what so fascinates me and probably always will. That these creatures, these huge, powerful creatures who ruled this planet for more years than we can comprehend were, in a single calamitous event, exterminated. Eliminated from the earth leaving just their bones by which to remember them. And we think we are so all-powerful. I bet they thought so, too.

BLOGGING BETWEEN MADNESS AND SANITY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Madness

Between sanity and madness, there has always lain writing. I have written my way out of deep depression, terrible grief, loneliness, and hopelessness. When I write, I find my way. Lately, photography has become part of the writing. Not instead of it, but in addition to it. The pictures are part of my story, the thing that I am doing besides pondering the evils of the world.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

It’s not just because “birds are pretty” or for that matter, because “flowers are pretty.” It’s because both of these things are of the earth and remind me that the earth brings forth beauty. Sometimes, the beauty is also terrible in its potential and consequences. Gigantic storms flood coastlines and river valleys. Fires destroy woods and towns. Winds blow down ancient trees and make the oak trees in our woods groan with the strain of motion for which they are never ready.

Tufted Titmouse

The process of taking these pictures is calming and it brings up a kind of genetic memory of a past built into my bones but lost from active memory. It reminds me of a childhood lived under waving white oaks — and that was the good part of childhood memories. It reminds me of the summer I spent reading hundreds of books about paleontology, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

So much of the stuff I know now I learned before I was ten. The things you learn “way back then” stick in your memory forever. The things I learned yesterday may scatter before dinner, but memories of books I read in childhood are permanent and have become the basis of later learning.

Chickadee

Today is a gray day with patches of blue. I realized that the birds needed feeding. I should have done it yesterday, but there was a holiday this week and it knocked my (very shaky) calendar off-balance. And so, while Garry is out testing the limits of his cochlear implant on creaky old colleagues from his working days, I refilled the bird feeders.

The pink cactus flowering

I had to learn to do it myself because no matter who else I depend on, in the end, I need to be able to do it alone. Sometimes, that’s the way it works. Garry is out, Owen is recovering from surgery and the birds are hungry.

And I need the pictures.

Blessed be the birds the fly through my woods. They keep me sane, keep madness outside the door and let me live just like a regular person.

CHANGING THE SEASONS OF THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

I haven’t read the official report, but I’ve read a lot of summaries and I wasn’t at all surprised by any of it. Twelve years left and then we can’t “save the earth.”

I consider it highly unlikely we’ll make that deadline.

I was one of the enthusiastic founders of the original Earth Day. Over the years, as we have cleaned up a lot of the inland waterways — the Blackstone and Hudson Rivers are two notable successes — and cleaned up the air around New York and on the west coast — I knew we weren’t making progress fast enough, but at least I could believe we were trying to head in the right direction.

Now with the big orange dictator setting up the world for extensive additional pollution, I wonder how quickly we will bring about our own doom?

People are the problem.

Our misuse of the earth, our pollution of the waters, our coughing up of coal dust into the air? People. Human beings. We did it, are doing it, and are unlikely to stop.

No other animal has polluted anything. Just people.


And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

— English Standard Version, Old Testament (Torah)


I’m not religious, or at least not in any traditional sense. Moreover, I don’t think the seven books of the Old Testament — the Torah — are close to the whole story. I have a lot of backup for this belief. It is widely believed there were hundreds of biblical books, most of which were destroyed during the first burning of the Great Temple. And then again, whatever was left were burnt in Alexandria. Even the memories of what was remembered died with the old Rabbis between the Crusades and the Holocaust.

A pack of gray wolves passes by a remote camera within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The landscape surrounding the failed nuclear reactor now supports a large population of wolves due to the limited human activity.

Hundreds of other books that were equally as holy as the seven we currently revere were burned, buried, destroyed. Do you think maybe they had something to say to us? Maybe this bit of text was not intended to tell us to exploit and despoil every inch of earth and every animal on the planet?

We have dominion over the earth, but we have not ruled the earth so much as destroyed it and now, it’s on the edge of fighting back.

I read a report recently about how well the area around Chernobyl has revived. Without human habitation, it has blossomed and wildlife has returned in plenitude. It’s not that the radioactivity has vanished, but that somehow, the world finds a way to move forward, radioactivity and all.

It turns out the earth can handle nuclear devastation. The only thing that it can’t manage is us.

Bee-eater in flight

This report does not offer us a lot of turnaround time — a mere dozen years. Perhaps you can take comfort in that although the earth may well become untenable as a place for human habitation, once it extracts us, it will be beautiful again as it was when we lived in the Garden of Eden, right below the mountains bordering Syria.

I have, by the way, been there. It’s an incredibly beautiful place where the underground waters that feed the Jordan river fountain up from the earth and wild bee-eaters take flight.


There are two signs on the path to the place.
In Hebrew, the words are “גן עדןmeaning “garden of Eden.”
The other sign says, in English, “Paradise.”

I felt, being there, that indeed if there was an Eden, this could be it. 

You might also take a look at Gordon Stewart’s “Climate Change in the Golden House.”

OF THE EARTH: CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE – Garry Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Ground: sand, dirt, grass, paths


When I took my excursion earlier this month, I took a lot of pictures of the ground. I had no idea why. The grass, the roads, the concrete. A gravel path. Our sidewalk.

Marilyn asked me why I’d take so many pictures of the ground and I said it was going to come in useful one day. Today seems to be the day!

Gravel path to the river

Dogs in their yard

Great green lawn

Shipping parking lot

Ground in the woods

FOUR ELEMENTS – VISUALIZING THE WORLD

WordPress Photo Challenge: Elemental


When I read this, I smiled. I remember when I was living in Israel and friends visited and they kept murmuring “But it’s so brown …” because it is. Sometimes. Deserts are brown in the summer, but in the winter with a bit of rain, they turn green and lovely. It’s amazing what a bit of water can do for the dry earth.

Earth

Air

Fire

Water

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017